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Community Contributor

Should we "now" assume that all students will use their smartphone to access "the class"

This has been wandering around in the back of my mind because of the threads about the physical process of uploading pictures, etc.

A decade ago the head of my apartment was adamant in a college wide discussion about "how much should we require students to do "online"?

His position was that "not all students have access to a computer and therefore we should not require the use of a computer even if the college had multiple kiosks available".

And that view held the field until the last year or so.

"Kiosks" kind of "dates" me. lol

Anyway..... last week I found out that if the student does "Pell Grant / FAFSA " etc. stuff by paper application that it will take a VERY long time for anything to get done at the state or federal level ( the college does it expeditiously ). 

So the college is now..... "assuming".... that all students will be on-line a regular amount of time, but I discovered this last week that at least a third of my seated class just do not "do" computers because I requested that they reply to an e-mail about "stuff" because we missed a day due to ice and it would behoove them to do this "stuff".

They had not even viewed the e-mail over a two day period.

So...........since "we" the eddication establishment ASSUMES that all people will be able to get onto a computer/laptop/tablet  "before the next meeting of a class"......

Should we NOW, or in the "near future",  ...assume......that all students will access an LMS through a smartphone?

yea or nay... and comments if desired.

I would post a yeah or nay poll but don't know how to do it.


45 Replies
Community Participant

Maybe part of the drift I see in this topic is what is meant by the word "access". What do you mean by accessing a class in Canvas with a smart phone?

Hi  @shuggin ‌

I am assuming that James means either using the Canvas Student App or a Browser App in a smart phone in order to access and interact with the content in your Canvas courses.


Community Contributor


I apologize profusely!

It is a case of the ACCCENT on the WRONG SYLLABLE....

yes.... on a smart phone

and the students solved the problem as noted in another thread.


 @jthompson ‌, 

I've previously read some of the studies you referenced here and I appreciate you putting them together in one cohesive thought, not just around smartphones and tablets, but access and functionality. A few quotes here I found particularly interesting. 

On-paper accommodations can often be made for students if need be, however it should be understood that students want a meaningful digital extension of their classroom to be accessible. 

I've been researching and engaged in mobile learning since 2009 and the biggest thing that's hard to make people understand is that mobile devices are just that extension and not a replacement. It's part of the entire experience and should not be treated like it's an optional gadget with limited functionality because the usage isn't as great as web. Usage doesn't equal importance. 

Access for people in this circumstance becomes limited to networks at schools and frequently visited hubs of connectivity, such as a McDonald’s. Connection to a school’s open network in particular was not just something important for school activities, but also for that wider connection to the social world.

I can't speak for K12, but in HE there are students who simply can't afford, or find it not important to have dedicated internet at home to save money for something else. It's like cable-cutters who rather just have Netflix. They rely on other sources besides their data plan to connect. Some are specific to the college, but others are these hubs of connectivity. 

All ethnic groups surveyed indicated that using technology such as the internet, computers, and smart phones were needed for college and career readiness, however the degree to which they felt this importance consistently varied across groups.

We find that in our school the student's major is a significant factor in importance. If they are going into a field that values the mobile device (journalism, hospitality, medical, etc) they are significantly more invested which increases their importance. 

We all have digital extensions of our activities as a basic part of life now.

Yup, so true.

It may just be students of the millenial/gen z cohorts do not put emphasis on emails as much as previous generations do.

We have done a few surveys on communication on mobile devices and web in general. This includes push notifications, email, and SMS. We are finding this to be true. The digital tap on the back is generally more effective than another email on their pile of email. 

This just means that part of modern education in any K20 course is teaching students to use the right machine for the right job.

This might be the most important statement you made. It all starts to run into digital fluency and simply knowing the best path to complete a task.

The app is completely based off of Canvas’ API. Therefore, all activity would be recorded and be accessible either from Canvas Data and/or Live Events.

Right now there is still a lot of "noise" in the data but we have had plenty of success with Canvas Data and the mobile apps. It's documented on the community how this is going to get better for all users, and with that Canvas Data should get even more reliable. 

Community Coach
Community Coach

One aspect of this that I have talked with  @rseilham ‌ about and would like to ask this group is; how many of you who are faculty, and if you are an admin how many of your faculty, discuss mobile use with their students advising them of pitfalls, limitations and challenges of using mobile tech, and also advise that a certain mobile skill set beyond texting your BFF and watching YouTube cat videos is required to use a mobile device for online learning?


Community Participant

I hope not.
I tell students not to use the mobile app, as I've found the iPhone app to be buggy, and it doesn't display the course in as logical a way and students who use it are forever asking me when things are due.